ICANN Brussels Day 3: Security Issues a Big Theme of the Public Meeting

BRUSSELS, Belgium—Day three of the 38th public meeting of ICANN was once again taken up by more than 20 meetings covering subjects such as vertical integration, brand management in the age of the new gTLDs and another long meeting of the Government Advisory Council (GAC), among many others. Security has emerged as a significant theme of the meeting, in addition to problems—mentioned in yesterday’s dispatch—perceived to be inherent in version four of the applicant guidebook for gTLDs.

International law enforcement has expressed its interest in seeing ICANN strengthen measures to make it more difficult for criminals to register domains and to make it easier to track criminals down. Even the FBI was in attendance, commenting yesterday that ICANN’s Registrar Accreditation Agreement was in need of serious overhaul. The need had become dire. Time was running out.

"We're seeing massive criminality that's costing hundreds of millions of dollars," he said, adding that the most serious problems involved national security concerns, child pornography, phishing and botnets, to name a few. Law enforcement from at least a dozen countries support stricter enforcement and tools and it was made clear that if greater protections were not put into place, laws would be crafted that would force ICANN’s hand. There was some expected push back from registrars, who said that such reforms would lead to higher prices for domains.

Enhanced security was also at the heart of the adoption by .org of DNSSE, or domain name system security extensions, which have been under development for almost two decades. Simply put, the implementation of the improved security regime will ensure that surfers can be assured that the sites they are visiting are actually run by the correct people, businesses or institutions, as long as the right URL is used. Essential partners on the successful rollout of DNSSE, domain registrars Go Daddy and Comcast joined about ten other registrars in announcing their intent to deploy DNSSE as a long-awaited method to address identity theft.

As to the real purpose of our attendance at the ICANN meeting, Wednesday’s lobbying included an offsite meeting that yielded some definitely interesting information about the Board’s intentions regarding dot-XXX, that will be forthcoming in a resolution being drafted as we speak. Who we spoke with and exactly what we were told cannot be mentioned at this point in time, but suffice to say political and legal pressures on ICANN are driving factors in its strategy to deal with the ICM application in a way that does not do unacceptable harm to the non-profit corporation based in Marina del Rey, Calif. The game remains a fluid one, and changes to the resolution that will be revealed and voted upon at the concluding meeting Friday were still being made this afternoon in long meetings, and may still be made up until they are voted upon. One would be hard pressed to think of an ICANN-related issue with more twists and turns than this one.

The weather today was about as perfect as it can be in this old city; a cloudless sky and temperatures that hovered around 70 degrees. This evening, the Gala at the Chateau de Grand-Bigard took place, and it was a simply sumptuous affair. Those fortunate to acquire tickets to the event were bused to the village suburb of Groot-Bygaarden, where they crossed an ancient bridge to the grounds of the Chateau, which was erected in the 13th century and comprises three structures—including a tower—surrounded by gorgeous gardens and brooks. The dinner was sponsored by EURid, the .eu registrar.

Tomorrow promises more twists and turns, as well as the ICANN public forum later in the day, when anyone can address the Board on any issue of interest.

Stay tuned…